Tuesday, November 30, 2021 

LGBT specialty publisher gets nationwide grant, in what sounds like socialist funding

The Kitsap Sun spoke with the manager of what sounds like a publisher specializing in LGBT propaganda in Port Orchard, who's received the kind of sums Ethan Van Sciver may have talked about earlier:
Jordaan Arledge's hobby turned into their career, and now their business, Arledge Comics, is receiving a national grant for businesses that support LGBTQ people of color.

The local comic book business is a recipient of the Human Rights Campaign and Showtime "Queer to Stay" small business grant, announced earlier this month. The goal of the grant is to ensure that the small businesses that represent and serve the LGBTQ community continue to stay afloat during the pandemic, according to a press release.
Is this on taxpayer money? What is so special about the ideology/lifestyle that stores of these sort have to be kept afloat? But, it does confirm suspicions I've had before, that even corporations could also be getting government funding at the expense of the taxpayer, all to push propaganda the public's got no use for.
Arledge said the comic business began unofficially during their last year at Central Washington University. They thought they wanted to be an English teacher, but once finding an interest in writing, they combined it with something they’ve always had an interest in — comic books. [...]

Arledge says the comics the company creates can be enjoyed and shared by the whole family. They said a lot of comic media has begun skewing toward older audiences, but the team all grew up enjoying comics.

“It’s almost a recapture of that feeling, reading this as a 13-year-old or being read it as a 6-year-old. You don’t get a lot of that in mainstream comics anymore,” Arledge said.

In addition to making comics that market to a wider age group, the company curates comics that have a diverse set of protagonists. For example, one character is a genderqueer blue-collar vampire hunter.

“I grew up in a time when anything that was queer or even looked a little bit gay was not acceptable for children,”
Arledge said.

“We’re making inclusive comics,” they added.

Arledge said those comics with queer characters or people of color have that same representation on the team creating them.

“It’s coming from our own experiences,” Arledge said.
It's nothing more than a work of self-importance, self-indulgence, and the worst part is how the publisher literally believes homosexuality/transsexuality is entirely suitable for children. So what's he talking about, when he says you don't get much of certain feelings in mainstream anymore? They've been pandering to his obsessive beliefs for years already, at the expense of artistic value, common sense and cohesion. And the ideologues he both works with and caters to don't care. It doesn't take a genius to figure out the only part of society he's being inclusive of is LGBT practitioners, and that Ukranians, Camerounians, French, Peruvians, Armenians and Thai aren't part of the mix...unless maybe the story's characters are required to be written as LGBT. And without a doubt, there's no chance there'll be any objective view of the ideology and practices either.

So what's this guy's point anyway? He and his company are really no different from countless other propagandists plying this trade, as some in animation have been doing of recent, to name but one example where homosexuality is being marketed for children, rather than adults as would've been done in Japan. Worst, Arledge is being given special funding status that likely wouldn't be given to Jewish charities or members of 9-11 Families for a Safe & Strong America. At least we know where our tax dollars are going, in one of the biggest cheats leftists can perform.

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Monday, November 29, 2021 

Hollywood Reporter acts as apologist for Image's workers forming a PC union

The Hollywood Reporter has a puff piece penned by the dreadful Graeme McMillan, telling more about the new union formed by Image workers, which still sounds more like an advocacy for political correctness than an effort to get paid well and retain good working conditions, which I thought was what most past unions were formed for:
“Labor organizing is something the staff at Image Comics have been discussing for a few years,” the Image staffers tell The Hollywood Reporter via email. (The group responded to questions as a collective.) “Many of us have backgrounds in or adjacent to unions, including several of the founders, whose work being successfully adapted for the big and small screen has meant working with or, in some cases, actually being represented by unions.”

While unions are a long-standing reality for the movie-making parent companies of publishers like DC and Marvel, the comic book industry has historically been resistant, with publishers having fired creators discussing the possibility in the past. No creative guild exists solely for comic book freelancers; the Writers Guild of America’s minimum basic agreement is based upon work developed for broadcast rather than print, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America only recently voted to admit comic writers and graphic novelists. “We’re crafting membership requirements for this new group of creators,” SFWA president Jeffe Kennedy says of the organization’s current position.
I wonder if that's phony what they're telling about opposition to unions within comicdom? Though if the industry was once against unions, it could've been because they were perceived as troublemakers who could undermine the ability to run a business well, though that's obviously not been the case for over 20 years already. For now, this article makes no direct mention of what the union really seems to stand for: blacklisting anybody whose politics don't coincide with their far-left beliefs.
Image Comics has so far failed to acknowledge the request for voluntary recognition, something the CBWU says is “disappointing.” A Nov. 5 deadline passed with no official response from the company, although the company did issue a statement earlier that day reporting that the National Labor Relations Board was reviewing a petition filed by the CWA to allow eligible members of Image’s staff to vote for CWA representation. The statement ended, “Everyone at Image is committed to working through this process, and we are confident that the resolution to these efforts will have positive long-term benefits.”

Undeterred by Image’s lack of recognition, the CBWU is asking supporters to lobby the company directly to voluntarily recognize the union, seeing the potential for their efforts to be a game-changer for the industry as a whole. Although the CBWU is only open to Image Comics employees, the group believes the hunger is out there among staff at other publishers.

“We wish we could share the sheer volume of responses we have received from people working at other publishers, asking for advice on how to start the process themselves,” the group says. “As it stands, all we can do is put them in contact with the fantastic people at the CWA, wish them well as they begin their own journey, and promise to stand up for them when they decide to go public, as they have stood up for us.”
And just what do they expect this to lead to? A situation where nobody will be hired on merit? Something actually already lacking badly in much of the mainstream, but this would only make it an even more farcical affair.
Sources inside Marvel and DC say that, for now, there hasn’t been increased discussion around unionizing, but it may simply be a matter of time. “I can’t even remember how many times my former Marvel co-workers and I floated the idea of unionization,” Arbona says of his time at the company. “For us, it was just idle speculation and wishful thinking. Unfortunately, we always came to the same self-defeating conclusions about who’d join us, who wouldn’t, and how the company would respond.”
Their ideological leanings are self-defeating, so what's the point here? It's unbelievable they even work in the medium if what they really care about is blacklisting anybody whose politics they detest.

Another news source fawning over this pretentious union is Vice's Motherboard section, which they call the "future" of comicdom, and there are some pretty fishy people involved too, including:
David Brothers, an editor for comics publisher Viz who worked at Image Comics from 2013 through 2017, told Motherboard that many of the issues that CBWU has brought up now have been brought up before. The company, he said, hasn’t grown with the times.

“I always described it as a big business that used to be a small business that never made the step up,” he said. “Image is independent but not indie, which is one of those weird online divides that’s hard to describe sometimes. So it has that scrappy underdog feel. I think the most people who worked there while I was there were like, 30.”
Brothers was a writer for the ultra-leftist Comics Alliance, and a decade ago, he wrote a predictably negative take on Frank Miller's Holy Terror. So he's not somebody on whose word one should put much value. If Image didn't grow with times, it's because of all the leftists they employ in turn, one of the worst being Erik Larsen, who won't publish any stories by outspoken conservatives. The article continues:
Part of the problem has to do with the visibility of the work that it takes to make a comic book—the work these unionizing workers do. The people who are responsible for all the work it takes to get a comic book in your hands—like the editors, workers in marketing, and people who cut checks—do things that are largely invisible to readers, but vital to creators. Burdening these workers with additional duties on top of what they were already doing was having an impact on the whole workplace.

“We work directly with creators to make their books ready for print,” CBWU said. “We help to make sure creators are paid on time. We assist in the marketing for the books. We work directly with distributors and retailers to put these books on the shelves. We work behind the scenes to give our creators the best possible success on their creator-owned stories.”
I would think it's only members of the union who'd get paid on time. What if they won't go to bat for a right-winger? Besides, there's all sorts of legal motions available to ensure workers get their wages. I get the strange feeling this is more like an excuse not to work too hard, outside of payment issues, considering that there's only so many jobs where you could have to deal with heavy workloads, and provided you get paid well, that's what people are in many businesses for. And then, somebody else decidedly fishy, this one more a veteran, is brought up:
According to Dan Jurgens, an industry veteran who wrote DC’s Death of Superman, a good editor is indispensable in comics. Jurgens said that although the writers and artists might get the most credit, every other person who works on a book serves a vital function towards getting it to the reader. Although comic books are creative works, they’re also collaborative endeavors that require coordination between many different workers.

“Your job as an editor, in some ways, is to manage the workload of all the freelancers who are working for you,” he told Motherboard. “Let's say you're editing four titles. You might have four issues of each of those titles in various stages of production on any given day. Some of them at the end of the chain are heading right for the printer, and you're trying to get it out. Managing that in this age of email, and changes and everything else that occurs, it's really a remarkable amount of work.”

[...] Scheidt and Jurgens both said that Image Comics already represented the potential for change within the industry because of how it was founded. Scheidt said that for creators, it’s still the best deal in comics.

“What I appreciated about the statement put out by the Image workers is that they did reference the founders of Image, who went out and capitalized on this idea that we can own our own material,” Jurgens said. “They built that company, and that's what they are very much about. I think that's fantastic.”

“They kind of had this whole cutting edge thing,” Scheidt said. “You know, the whole revolution of them being founded by Marvel and DC people who were just fed up with drawing other people's characters and writing other people's stories and, you know, being stuck in archaic publishing contracts and stuff like that.”
Gee, that's pretty big talk coming from somebody who continued working for the Big Two long after Image's founding. And who, as noted, co-wrote one of the most overrated, overblown stories of the early 90s in the Man of Steel's line. During which time, as noted before, Cat Grant's son was murdered at the hands of the Toyman. Was all that Jurgens' way of expressing his disdain for writing stories for one of the most famous - and regrettably, one of the most misused - superheroes in history? No matter what one thinks of work-for-hire, it's no excuse for ruining other people's work so badly. Something the other interviewee seems unconcerned about. Nor do they seem particularly concerned about censorship, which did affect some of their products, such as Howard Chaykin's work, the leftism notwithstanding:
When one of the covers to the acclaimed but controversial Howard Chaykin’s series Divided States of Hysteria depicted a brown man being lynched with his genitals torn off, Brothers said, staffers at Image had a meeting with management to discuss the hot water that Image had suddenly found itself in. But it went poorly.

“We were like please, if we're gonna do this kind of work, it has artistic value, give us a heads up. Like, we're affected by this,” he said. “We don't want you to not do this. Like, there's all kinds of crime novels, and I grew up on rap music so I have no space to argue.

“But I do think there's a level of appropriateness and respect you can approach these issues with, and maybe like the lynching cover’s not it. Maybe there's another route. The thrust of our argument was, ‘Just keep us in the loop.’ The answer was basically, ‘You're not the one who picks the books, so you don't necessarily get a say.’”

Brothers said that in response to this meeting, Image Comics employees received a diversity training.

(“After concerns about DIVIDED STATES were brought to our attention by the public,” the Image spokesperson said, “the concerns were addressed with the cover being replaced before going to print, and then having all staff complete diversity training. There was not an all-staff meeting prior to that where employees voiced their concerns to Image.”)
Ah, now this is definitely a left-wing leaning here. Diversity training? Why not simply training to make a distinction between good and bad taste? I don't have a high opinion of Chaykin, but these are not the people qualified to go about making decisions. What they did is practically what's spoken about in the union's agenda, and is even mentioned shortly after:
The most controversial ask CBWU has made of management is for “a collective voting option to immediately cancel publication of any title whose creator(s) have been found to have engaged in abuse, sexual assault, racism and xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, ableism, etc.”

This has been read as a demand for a censorious panel to ensure that upcoming comics adhere to diktats of political correctness. It is perhaps more properly read as a response to past incidents including the Chaykin cover and the disastrous Warren Ellis situation, in which the company was caught in a bind after the well-respected writer was called out for predatory behavior. Image workers are not so much demanding that books and creators be put before a star chamber as putting on the table for negotiation a defined process for dealing with creators doing or saying objectionable things—a process that might, if laid out properly, do as much to protect creators who find themselves in the middle of a shitstorm as anything else, and which would in all simply meet publishing industry standards.
Well doesn't this basically prove the point for anyone worried it's more a political statement than an effort to ensure decent pay rates? I don't care about Ellis' work, but from what I know, he argued none of his relations were on the violent side, and if not, then provided they were between consenting adults, you can't exactly call him a predator based on that. Though a valid argument can be made he shouldn't have cheated his lovers out of any chance to get through to publishers, if they were interested in making their way into the medium. And Ellis doesn't even have to be at the office; he can always work at home, if the women opposing his presence really don't want him around. And what, they really see nothing wrong with censoring Chaykin's work, no matter the intent? "More properly", my foot.
“What they're saying is that it's not about the content of the comics, right? It's about what the creators have done,” Brothers said. “It's about abuse, essentially. I think people are reading it as they want oversight on what goes into the books. Really, it's like, ‘We don't want to work with creeps.’”
Based on Brothers' past attacks on Miller for penning Holy Terror, we can only wonder who those creeps are he's talking about. Do they also include people far more right-leaning than Miller's ever been? (Let's remember he's since fully realigned with the left.) For example, if Image won't work with Chuck Dixon based on his conservative leanings alone, doesn't that serve as a troubling example? This also mentions a veteran who reportedly tried to work on unionization:
Perhaps most oddly, a spokesperson for Neal Adams, the legendary artist who attempted to unionize the field and secure royalties and rights to original art for men like Captain America creator Jack Kirby and Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, denied that he had ever been involved in labor issues at all while turning down an interview request. “Those were creator’s rights issues,” the spokesperson said, and declined to elaborate on the distinction.
Well that's the difference between then and now. It wasn't politics, but creators rights and residuals. If a new union is formed putting politics at the forefront, it's not a reliable movement. Besides, something tells me the new Image union ultimately won't prevent sexual misconduct at workplaces.
This aside, the Image union exists in a specific historical context. Scheidt and Brothers both mentioned that none of this would be possible without Gawker organizing with the Writer’s Guild of America East in 2015. (VICE’s editorial teams are organized with the WGAE.) Both Brothers and Scheidt hope that just as Gawker affected the digital-media industry, the CBWU being recognized and successfully negotiating a contract could start to be a domino effect of other comics publishers unionizing as well.

“I think if it works at Image, it would definitely lead to a wave of other publishers unionizing,” Brothers said, adding that Dark Horse and Oni are also in Portland, where Image Comics is located.
All that'll do is lead to bigger blacklisting situations, based on partisan politics, not to mention more destruction of creativity. Most intriguing they mention the now defunct Gawker, the leftist site with some of the most atrocious people working for them, which used to own Gizmodo a few other shoddy sites. The parent site's company lost a lawsuit with veteran wrestler Hulk Hogan nearly a decade ago, and had to sell off its other assets to pay their legal bills. If this is the kind of news sources they consider worthy, no wonder this puff piece falls flat. At the end, it says:
“We hope this is just the beginning of a tidal wave of unionization in this country,” the union said. “It’s long overdue.”
A wave based on political correctness is not what we need at all. There's already far too many cases of communist blacklisting going on, spilling out of universities and into businesses and other such institutes around the USA. It does not help creativity one bit, mainly because in the end, both liberal and conservative creators alike will suffer, based on petty issues, and all the wrong reasons. But, it's hardly a surprise a site as awful as Vice happens to be would go this route. Image is bound to be screwed soon anyway, and so will Dark Horse, if they keep on with their far-left directions, and unions like these will only prove farcical in the end.

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Saturday, November 27, 2021 

Stephen King always chose Batman over Superman

For those familiar with the writings of veteran horror-thriller novelist Stephen King, this will definitely not be a surprise. All the same, I thought this could make a good case study in research for somebody who made it clear he considers the guy who lives in the dark superior in every way to the guy who lives in the light. Case in point: the introduction King wrote for the 400th Batman issue from October 1986, at least 35 years ago, as seen in the scans below:
King said he always chose Batman. He tries to assure everybody he never disliked Superman, but then he goes on to argue the Man of Steel was too strong and capable, without even considering that in a sci-fi world, you could still conceive enough obstacles to fill a whole galaxy, including, but not limited to, Kryptonite and the magical energies Superman was vulnerable to as established by writers in the Silver Age. And this was a novelist who dealt with sci-fi/fantasy elements in some of his books, even as horror was the main name of the game. King goes on to address the 1978 Superman film ads that said, "you'll believe a man can fly", and in King's case, he didn't, and not just in the movies, but "not completely in the comic books" either. I guess that means he didn't believe Green Lantern could fly with the help of his power ring, huh? Or that Hawkman could do the same with the 9th Metal devices he built.

He even describes Perry White as a precursor to J. Jonah Jameson without clearly acknowledging the fundamental differences in their prescribed MO: the former was depicted as an honest news editor, while the latter was mostly dishonest in his coverage of, but not limited to, Spider-Man. King wasn't even impressed with Superman's cold breath-blowing, and probably not with his heat-ray vision either. I get the feeling King's failure to appreciate Superman for what he was created as, sci-fi premise or otherwise, simply stemmed from inability to appreciate optimism. After all, it's not like King's novels were all built upon brightness so much as they were upon darkness. Did any of DC's other heroes in publication at the time ever get the kind of introduction to an anniversary issue as King lavished upon Batman? Sure, Ray Bradbury wrote the introduction to the 400th issue of the Superman series originally launched in 1939 (later modified to Adventures of in 1987, as a third spinoff was launched by John Byrne), which conveniently also came out on an October in 1984, but that was only one page, not two, like King's was. I get the feeling the publishers did not put as much value on an opinion for the Man of Steel as they did for Batman, and that's what really dismays me.

And if that's what King thought then, who knows what he thinks of the Masked Manhunter now, at a time when Batman's franchise has fallen victim to political correctness as much as any other DC/Marvel book, and Bruce Wayne's another character who may be on the verge of being kicked to the curb for the sake of a social justice substitute? A similar situation's taken place in Batman Beyond/Urban Legends #7. If King's got no complaints, wouldn't that make his introduction to the anniversary issue from 35 years back moot? In which case, one could argue the UK Guardian has a point, that the only thing about King that's amazing is his ego. Let's also not forget this guy's a real far-leftist, and it sure isn't doing much to ensure his work will age well.

Also, I know Daredevil wasn't much more than 2 decades old at the time King wrote his Batman intro, but still, as I've argued a time or two before, how come these authors with an overinflated ego wouldn't offer Stan Lee's superhero who lived even more in the dark than Bruce Wayne ever did some high regard? Is it because unlike DC's famous vigilante, Matt Murdock has superpowers, even if it wasn't super-strength? One sure thing, there's no chance King would ever offer high praise to the Punisher, and definitely not today. Lest we forget, Frank Castle's own co-creator Gerry Conway's been otherwise shunning his Marvel vigilante creation for the sake of wokeism. Which reminds me, the chances King would ever write a story like The Green Mile today are much lower, and would be less accepted at the Oscars, because some have argued since that the novel/film embody a "magical negro" stereotype. Indeed, it's not like King's all that beloved among modern leftists these days as he used to be, based in part on these issues.

In the end, as noted before, it's far from surprising a novelist so obsessed with the dark in some way or other would supply the introduction for the standout representative of all that's dark at DC. That's the problem when you have a whole industry where darkness is overvalued, and then look where it leads to: an inability to genuinely appreciate brightness and optimism.

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Canadian artist turns rappers into comic strips

Here's an interview on Complex with an artist from Ottawa, Ontario who was inspired by past comics and manga to do drawings of Canadian rappers in comics format.

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Friday, November 26, 2021 

Non-commitment to "change" is somehow holding superhero series back

Monkeys Fighting Robots has a dismaying op-ed worrying about superhero comics not changing, and not being committed to the same. Even though Stan Lee once suggested "illusion of change" could work well enough in the context of the serial fiction he oversaw in his time. They say here:
Comic books are a relatively recent medium of art but, unlike other art forms, comic book characters haven’t changed much. They have been around since the near beginning and are still thriving today, still protected by copyright law and owned by the same publishers. People have come and gone in that time frame, and these beloved characters have gone on their own path, but not as much as an outside observer would expect. Especially recently, any change in status or lessons learned in superhero comic books are reverted after a short period, leading to many versions of the same story being told repeatedly. There are many reasons why this occurs, but it results in stories without consequences and leads to stagnant characters.
But here's what dampens whatever point this is supposed to convey:
A prime example of a character in superhero comic books that is often refused the opportunity to grow is Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. This can be seen in Dan Slott’s run of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Superior Spider-Man. Whether or not you enjoyed Slott’s time with Spider-Man, you must give him props for doing something different with the famous web-slinger. For those unfamiliar with the run, Doctor Octopus took over Peter’s body, becoming the “Superior Spider-Man” for an enormous portion of the run. Peter was eventually restored to his original body but found himself in charge of Parker Industries — a global company that employed thousands. This was a drastic shift from the typical making-ends-meet Peter we know from his appearances in other media. Slott’s run would be a fantastic example to refute my premise that superhero comic books refuse to change, had it ended differently.

By the end of his run, Parker Industries was gone, and Peter was poor once again, bringing back the typical image of Spider-Man that most people have in their minds. One of the only large changes Slott had made to the character was allowing him to finish his graduate degree — a change that was reversed in the first issue of Nick Spencer’s run with the character (not including the story he did for Free Comic Book Day). Slott discussed this purposeful reversion of the character in an interview he did with Syfy Wire in 2019. “I always knew his company was going to lie in ruins by the end of the story… I always knew I was going to return it to factory setting before I passed it off to the next guy.” This is a kind and considerate action to take when thinking of future writers of the character but results in a dull overall story with no lasting consequences from supposedly earth-shattering storylines.
Unfortunately for this column, it throughly ignores how Slott's run on Spidey was built upon the ruins of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson's marriage. Why no complaints how Joe Quesada's machinations threw out a concept/institution lacking respect these days, of married couples? Doesn't that count as an example of non-commitment to change, or contempt for it? And how come no dismay expressed at Peter making a deal with Mephisto to obliterate his marriage to Mary Jane? That may not be quite as horrific as some of the physically violent ingredients turning up in DC stories in the 2000s, but it's still embarrassingly bad to see a hero making such a noticeable Faustian pact with a villain who's supposed to be Marvel's variation on the devil. And speaking of DC, they too receive mention in this pretentious column:
One consequence of this noncommitment to change in superhero comic books that permeates most Marvel and DC Comics characters is the feeling of no stakes during huge events. For example, when DC Comics has a “Crisis” event today, it is never anywhere near as impactful as the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. Even if similar situations occur, such as two major characters dying, it still won’t have the same effect. Because well-versed readers are aware of how infrequently significant changes stick. Even when the publisher decides to keep a major change, such as Alfred Pennyworth’s death in Batman #77, it still doesn’t make a lasting impression since it is a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” scenario. We’ve had Superman, the Flash, Batman (several times), Jason Todd, and Damian Wayne die and then come back to life. Who’s to say that Alfred won’t come walking out of the tomb any day now?
Here too, I find reason to feel depressed, because it sounds like somebody's not basing judgement on entertainment value, but rather, on whether characters remain in the grave. Does this mean that if Superman is killed off by the end of next year and never comes back, that'll be fully acceptable, and cannot be questioned at all? I'm sorry, but this is totally devastating. The reason these crossovers have no more impact today is because many of them only exist to terminate any character, major or minor, who the publishers decide is expendable in their twisted POV, regardless of whether any writer could develop a talented story built around them. Or, the crossovers are produced for introducing politically motivated characters similar to what the recently created Jon Kent, son of Superman, now represents. Anybody who only gets into the medium for these kind of goals has no business working in the industry.

Worst, this op-ed ignores that no matter what one thinks of resurrections, it's part and parcel of science fiction and fantasy. The subject was in discussion on this Reddit thread, and they cited examples like Madness of Angels by Kate Griffith, and A Fire Upon the Deep, to name but some. There's doubtless many newspaper comic strips where characters don't change much, like Dick Tracy, so why do only superhero comics get singled out? That's exactly what's ruining them, because you have all these "moralists" forcing political correctness upon the creations, never considering the original creators didn't exactly intend to have them grow according to their absurd standards, and during the Golden Age, most creators were on tighter schedules, so character development and drama wasn't exactly an easy thing to accomplish. MFR doesn't even care that writers as terrible as Tom King oversaw bumping off Alfred, nor do they ask whether it was in good taste to do it in the first place. Or, they never ask why there's too few stories where characters die from natural causes and auto accidents. And complaining about how it's the same story all over again, coming from such propagandists, is pretty rich, because all that led to was politically motivated leftism in comicdom, which has since ruined everything.

So this op-ed falls flat, because it takes an approach oblivious to objectivity and merit, refusing to accept how superhero comics were destroyed around the turn of the century by PC advocates who, above all, had no respect for entertainment merit. Failure by commentators who're supposedly knowledgeable of these mediums to offer a meat-and-potatoes viewpoint is what additionally brought it all down. When "change" is exploited by such PC advocates, that's how everything collapses.

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Thursday, November 25, 2021 

A lot of retailers won't attend this year's SDCC

The Los Angeles Times says that quite a few specialty sellers won't be attending the year's comicon in San Diego:
But last year, after Newbold had already acquired valuable inventory to sell at the convention, rising COVID-19 cases forced the cancellation of Comic-Con’s in-person gathering for 2020. His biggest sales week of the year was gone. “It was a kick in the teeth.”

Virtual events hosted by Comic-Con weren’t the same for Newbold. And when this summer’s in-person convention was also canceled, he thought 2021 would be another lost year. But this weekend, a smaller, three-day in-person event titled Comic-Con Special Edition is returning to the San Diego Convention Center. Even though the gathering will happen on a holiday weekend without the usual crush of summer crowds — attendance has been estimated to reach 167,000 in past years — comic store owners like Newbold are looking forward to the return of an IRL show. Even if many of them won’t be attending.

“The con, I need it,” Newbold says. “Most of us back-issue dealers need that show because it’s a real money maker. Comic-Con is a big part of my business.”

Yet Newbold says that he and most of the back issue dealers he knows across the country won’t be attending this time around.

“It’s not convenient,”
he says. “It’s terribly expensive when you go for a week, but it’s practical because it takes a week to make the kind of money doing what we do in that show. There’s no way to justify dragging the material, say from New York, for a two-and-a-half-day convention where they charge so much for a booth.”

Even moving inventory just a few miles, Newbold says, is a logistical hassle for a scaled-down convention where the turnout is unknown.
The Corona crisis clearly did have an unfortunate impact on finances for specialty sellers, and this certainly confirms what the situation is like now. It suggests things have become so bad, some retailers are understandably discouraged from further attendance. But does SDCC really make money for them, when movies and merchandise have increasingly become more of a focus at their shows? And if they do, is it due to speculators continuing to buy solely for the assumed monetary value?
“Comic-Con began with a variety of exhibitors and chief among them were comic book retailers,” says David Glanzer, the organization’s chief communications and strategy officer. “That continues to this day. Of course the industry has changed a great deal in the past 50 years with digital comics, online retailing and other factors. But comics have, and continue to be, one of the main focuses of our event.”
Again, that's not really certain. At least not the last time I looked. I remember when it became a political platform, exploited as it was by the pretentious Joss Whedon to vent his divisive leftist viewpoints. If that behavior continues at this year's convention, that'll be reason enough for the sensible consumer to stay away. On which note:
An assistant manager at Comics-N-Stuff in Chula Vista, Estigoy will be on the exhibit floor with his partner and illustrator Asia Estigoy selling their small-print-run comics, including their better known “Peaburt’s Big Adventure” and associated merchandise.

But the retail store he works for, which has exhibited at the convention for nearly 20 years, won’t be in attendance this time.

Estigoy is confident that people who don’t make the event will drop by the store instead, just as they’ve done for years. “Collectible and comic book stores are traditionally larger retail environments, so it gives people who don’t get tickets that Comic-Con experience during the convention and year round,” he says.
It's far better to visit an establishment where you're only really paying for what products you want to buy than one where you have to buy tickets just to get in. And then, this article cites a consumer who's purchasing the most predictable comic you could expect the paper to mention:
The haul for the San Diego resident and weekly customer includes comic book issues of “Batman,” the sci-fi fantasy series “By the Horns” and the apocalyptic “Penny for Your Soul: Death.”
This report makes no mention of Superman, or, if darker-themed books matter, Daredevil and the Hulk aren't mentioned either, nor are the Spectre and Swamp Thing. If all they can mention is Batman, that too signals a pretty cheap route being taken by the journalists, proving in addition they don't really care about the medium at all. Is it any wonder Superman's franchise became a neglected stepchild over the past decade or so?

In the end, this is a sad sign of where the medium could be headed, as financial difficulties are another reason for the decline of conventions.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2021 

A columnist argues against obscuring older Jewish characters, and then dampens her argument

Here's a writer at leftist Book Riot talking about Jewish characters from a historical perspective, telling what a shame it is when they're obscured, which is true, and then damaging the whole argument with the mere mention of Marvel's worst propaganda vehicle of recent, the Muslim Ms. Marvel. First, if there's something this at least gets right, and also points to something troubling:
DC marketed Whistle as the first new Jewish superhero from them in 40 years. First of all, if that were true, it would be an embarrassing self-own. But it’s not true. Harley Quinn was introduced on Batman: The Animated Series in 1992, and folded into the main DC universe in 1999. Kate Kane was reintroduced as Batwoman in 2006. And Al Rothstein, who has gone by Nuklon and Atom-Smasher, debuted in 1983, squeaking in just under that 40 year cutoff.

I sort of get why Harley and Kate might be excluded from that stat. After all, Harley’s usually somewhere on the villain to antihero scale rather than a pure hero. And Kate was technically a revamp of a much older character, Kathy Kane, who first appeared in 1956 — the 2006 version was significantly revamped to be Jewish, a lesbian, and Bruce Wayne’s cousin.

But it feels like splitting hairs to me to exclude them from the category of “recent Jewish heroes.” It feels especially icky when taking into account how high profile they both are: Harley has starred in three movies and her own TV show (the latter of has been called out for its use of antisemitic tropes), and Kate starred in the first season of Batwoman before the departure of the actress playing her, Ruby Rose, led to casting Javicia Leslie as a new, non-Jewish Batwoman. These are characters that hundreds of thousands of people who’ve never picked up a comic book know the names of; why is their Jewishness suddenly being rules-lawyered out?

And there’s no reason to exclude Al Rothstein from that list at all, so why does he disappear from the promotional statistic? When he’s played by Noah Centineo in next year’s Black Adam and goes from obscure C-lister to movie star, will his Jewishness be further downplayed or erased?
Yes, it's true, Nuklon (I'd rather NOT call him by that Atom-Smasher codename, as it merely alludes to a time where DC was already falling into terrible pretensions at the turn of the century) came much earlier, and he was co-created by Roy and Dann Thomas in All-Star Squadron, and soon prominently featured in the more modern-set spinoff, Infinity Inc. But considering the political correctness Whistle reeks of, is it any wonder DC would obscure Nuklon? Hardly. (So it'll be no shock if Jewishness doesn't factor into an upcoming movie.) As for the new Batwoman, given she was one of DC's earlier social justice pandering creations (by the dreadful Greg Rucka), what's the point of citing her, since DC went downhill a long time ago?

Interesting they complain here that the Harley Quinn series contains antisemitic tropes, though I have reason to wonder if it's not stemming from altruism. The columnist wonders why the Jewishness of certain characters is being thrown out? Obviously, it could prove antisemitism is still a serious issue in corporate-owned entertainment (just look at what Mark Ruffalo's spewed out), but she doesn't seem up to admitting the likelihoods. That's exactly why I'm wondering what's so special about a villainess who's practically been pushed to faux-stardom for the sake of it? And lest we forget, if HQ began as a criminal, not a superhero, then why run the gauntlet of making it sound like she's worth citation? In which case, why even bother to cite such a grossly overused character, whose very use has long gone past the point of embarrassment? Which is just what this next paragraph is:
Presenting a hot new character of a given marginalized identity as the first ever or first in X amount of years is not a new thing. When Kamala Khan debuted as Ms. Marvel in 2014, she was proclaimed far and wide to be the first Muslim character in the Marvel universe and/or superhero comics, neither of which is true. Yes, she was and remains by far the highest profile Muslim character in superhero comics, but that’s not the same as being the first, and this pattern of overemphasizing scarcity merely serves to whitewash (and straightwash, Christianwash, etc.) comics more than they’ve already done themselves. Kamala’s Muslim predecessors may have been obscure and often stereotypically presented, but that didn’t mean they weren’t important to Muslim readers.
If she'd take a more realist view, she'd realize they're not important to most Muslim readers she assumes are actually reading these items...save for propaganda purposes. She sure doesn't seem interested in story merit, that's for sure, or maybe she'd consider that not only is much of the recent mainstream output so dreadful, but surely it's not insulting how a villainess is being pushed as a sex symbol? I find that disturbing, as is the part implying heteroseuxality and Christianity are literally bad things. It's bad enough Superman's franchise is being humiliated, and these leftist columnists are practically the reason why.
Similarly, it was important to me to see Al Rothstein speaking Yiddish on the page, years before Whistle came along. It was important to see Harley celebrating Hanukkah, or Kate struggling with a very Jewish ambivalence about her faith. As much as I loved seeing Whistle talk about concepts like tikkun olam — and I truly, truly loved it — I can’t help being frustrated that she seems to exist in a contrived vacuum. Harley’s given a passing cameo, but Kate is absent. And notably, so is the most prominent Jewish character in the entirety of superhero comics: Bruce Wayne.
But it's not important to have merit, is it? Again, that's something pretty absent here. I find it disgusting she thinks the sight of HQ celebrating the Hanuka holiday is a big deal, based on the character's villainy. All that does is sour the holiday. Say, how come Superman doesn't warrant notice here, based on Kal-El's being co-created by 2 Jewish artists and writers who were about 18 when they debuted the Man of Steel? Just more signs the columnist really is that poor in her views.
That forgetting feels familiar to the way the Jewish history of comics is “rediscovered” with every new think piece. Jewish characters, like Jewish creators, seem to disappear most of the time, only to be trotted out when they can be presented as a rare or surprising spectacle. But Jewish identity is baked into the very essence of the superhero, and has been since the beginning. After more than 80 years of the genre, when it’s grown from disposable entertainment for a dime to the biggest movies and TV shows in pop culture, I’m ready to see the Jewish heritage of the superhero acknowledged on a regular basis. It’s long past time.
Trouble is, this article is so superficial and self-important, it doesn't sound like the writer wants to see Israel presented as part of that heritage. She doesn't ask for Armenians to get any kind of significant heroic role in comicdom, nor Macedonians, and it's just so frustrating, I'd be a lot happier if people like her wouldn't talk about the art form any more. Mainly because she won't take an objective view of the medium, and how it's been terribly dumbed down, with the movies now catching up to the political correctness they've suffered from.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021 

Why Asterix will never conquer a readership in the USA

Famous European comics like Asterix may be big on that side of the world, as The Connexion points out, but there's plenty of reasons why you can't expect the popularity to ever be duplicated stateside:
Asterix books have been a huge hit in France since the character was launched in 1959, and this shows no signs of slowing down, despite the deaths of his creators.

The latest comic book by the official successors of Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny came out with a five million print run last month.
Certainly, that's an impressive sum, compared to how serial fiction prints out in the USA (although lately, you wouldn't be able to figure it out at ease, because ICV2 keeps their sales figures almost entirely behind a paywall. Which certainly speaks volumes). But how well has Asterix ever proven in American sales? Not very well:
In America, however, after several attempts, Asterix is still far from a household name – although US publisher Papercutz said a 2020 relaunch with new translations “has gone well despite the pandemic getting in the way”. No sales figures are available.

Owner Terry Nantier said they had tried to address some ‘caricatural’ racial depictions by inserting boxes explaining the context and attitudes of the time the books were written. Netflix is also preparing to release an animated Asterix series in 2023.
That hints at something the PC leftist crowd would not put up with, which is the exaggerated facial features on some of the characters appearing in several of the stories, even as this approach was downplayed after the early 1970s, much like it was with manga in Japan. It makes no difference to the left that white characters like Asterix and Obelix had exaggerations of their own like big round noses, they still ostensibly won't be at peace with black characters who had the same.

All that aside, Netflix is going to broadcast a cartoon based on the French comic? If it's brand new, I have no doubt it'll be really succumbed to wokeness, and Netflix just isn't worth subscribing to anyway. When a new project like this is announced for their network, you know something's wrong. The article goes on:
"The Americans succeeded in selling to the world one of their own founding myths – the western – but it has been much harder to sell this one to them.”

Prof Gabilliet said the UK is in around fourth or fifth place for European sales.

“It confirms my hypothesis that the British are Europeans without being European, which is quite clear in recent times. There’s a certain level of popularity, but it’s not at the levels we see in France and Germany.

American superheroes are more appreciated there than Asterix.
But is that because of the current PC trends superhero themes have been drowning in? There's so much coming from the genre these days that's unreadable, I just can't figure out why UK audiences would bother.

But the reason why Asterix still works better for UK audiences is because:
Prof Gabilliet said the “extraordinary” translations and clever wordplay of the late Anthea Bell had helped. However, they were so well adapted to the British audience that they went over less well in America (for example, she named two Roman soldiers Sendervictorius and Appianglorius). “Like with metropolitan or Quebecois French, British English creates a cultural barrier for Americans.
Of course, there's only so much differences in the UK, same language notwithstanding, that no wonder certain US audiences by contrast couldn't get the hang of it, and wouldn't care anyway. Politically correct education saw to it there'd be a lack of appreciation for certain foreign products.
“At the start of the 1980s, the Dargaud publishing house proposed translations for the US audience, with slangy American expressions. It didn’t work, partly because the albums were sold in a similar format to the French ones, and at the time it wasn’t familiar to the Americans. They were used to their little stapled comic books, usually featuring young characters or superheroes, and Asterix didn’t fit the mould. It was before the graphic novel had caught on, as it later did.

“As for the new Papercutz ones, Asterix was nowhere to be seen in the top 750 comic book and graphic novel sales for the US in 2020, so I don’t think the figures can be as good as all that, but it’s normal: we can’t transform Asterix into a US bestseller overnight.

I don’t know what the Netflix show will be like either, but you never know. If it’s well-financed and well-adapted, with ideas that appeal to the Americans, maybe it will boost the sales of Papercutz’ books. I’m curious to see what impact it will have.

“It might have none, or it might be significant, and that would be great.”

Prof Gabilliet said it was “a bit regrettable” that Papercutz had found it necessary to ‘contextualise’ depictions of race but “it’s a sign of the times”.
Sad, but that's the result of decades of indoctrination to political correctness, inability to look past certain questionable ingredients, and make distinctions between what's forgivable or not. I thought it was sad when Augie deBlieck caved to a PC viewpoint, and no matter the budget for the Netflix cartoon, if it's brand new, that won't mean anything if the scripting and visuals are held hostage to wokeness.

And that's why Asterix is unlikely to find more audience in the USA in current times any more than in the past. Only so many PC advocates in the USA go out of their way to dumb down all sorts of creations, and have no respect for creations originating in foreign languages either. Asterix isn't the only European comic that can't find traction stateside - even Yoko Tsuno's unlikely to find much audience in the USA, the starring of a POC notwithstanding, and it doesn't make any difference that it's a pretty family friendly comic either. Political correctness stateside's ruined everything.

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A very fishy indie comic about Iraq

I discovered graphic novelist and video commentator Richard Meyer talking all about this independent comic titled Yasmeen, which is about an Iraqi Muslim woman who'd survived slavery by ISIS, and later traveled to and readjusted in America. Meyer claims it was overlooked, because SJWs don't really care about minorities, not even Islamists, which is true in a sense, but that doesn't mean they don't condone the propaganda this book could stand for, and that's why I find this a very strange thing he's saying. He says the protagonists aren't presented as lunatics. However, this review of the 3rd issue on Monkeys Fighting Robots is decidedly reason to be wary:
“Split between two times in her life, Yasmeen tells the story of an Iraqi girl who survives slavery in the ISIS terrorist regime in Mosul. Yasmeen was a happy 16-year-old until she was captured by ISIS invading forces and was forced to find the courage within herself to endure slavery. After surviving long two years of slavery, she is freed, but has become a different person. Unable to connect to the things that she loved before, she must go through a different kind of struggle, as she tries to adjust to the normal life with her family as refugees in a foreign country, America.”

With this third issue of “Yasmeen,” Ahmed focuses primarily on both Yasmeen’s and her father’s attempts to establish a new normalcy, with the latter of the two almost unable to even look at his own daughter anymore. It also covers the frightening notion of Yasmeen having started to accept her horrible life in imprisonment as a relative normal, as well as dealing with classic post-9/11 racism and islamophobia. Ahmed manages to impact a new emotional point with every issue, and this one runs the gamut of heartbreaking realizations. The traumatizing and life-fracturing events that Yasmeen’s family went through obviously did the most damage to the titular character, but watching this family remain true to their faith while also attempting to find happiness again is a seldom-seen brand of devastation. Once again, the characterizations and dialogue writing of Saif Ahmed feel so right and appropriate they almost disappear into the story. If there is one minor issue with this chapter, it’s that the flashback and flashforward structure that this comic has had so far actually gets a tad confusing this time around. It isn’t exactly head-spinning, but it feels less neat then the two prior issues’ approach to this style. This one nitpick aside, this is yet again a brilliantly written and impactful piece of comics storytelling.
Okay, hold on a moment here. Now are they telling us the book has an accepting view of the Religion of Peace, which is precisely what led to the girl's kidnapping and enslavement, and act as though it has no connection with the issues at hand? And that anybody who's critical of Islam is inherently wrong? Are they even denying jihad is part and parcel of Islam?

If Meyer's taking a lenient approach to Islam, he's regrettably sugarcoating a comic built upon taqqiya (deception), whose authors are apparently not willing to acknowledge that ISIS was following the quranic beliefs in slavemongering and other horrific positions. And that's really disturbing, considering I'd supported his side in the past few years, after all those horrific characters in and around the medium were brainlessly assaulting him and getting him blacklisted over petty issues.

The Yasmeen comic may have been ignored by SJWs in the long run, but I'd guess it wasn't so much because of its accepting view on Islam, so much as that it dealt with terrorism at all, and to the PC crowd, even that much is unacceptable. Considering the Muslim Ms. Marvel is something the industry/press in general went out of their way to promote over the top, it's not like they don't see Islam as something to ignore.

Let's be clear. The conduct of ISIS is abominable. But to obscure ideological motives doesn't solve anything, and ignores that the belief system practically allows 2 or more sects to battle each other. According to Meyer, when he was serving in Iraq, he didn't see any spousal abuse in view. Well of course not, because these are things taking place behind closed doors; that's how domestic abuse works in general! But really grating about his commentary is that it obscures the even more horrific issue of Islamic honor murders. Of course it's not like it occurs in an omnipresent manner, but that doesn't mean it's not happening, and if this comic is obscuring Islam's connections with the topic, that's what's troubling.

I took a look at the video comments, and one example is:
I realized this on Perch's Luke Cage video, but SJWs don't care about characters that aren't pointing their fingers at someone or aren't taking the spot of an established character, they literally created a culture centered around that being a synonym for virtue.

I remember a few years ago, when we were having all those discussions around that shitty She-Ra reboot, and people kept complaining about the lack of non-sexualized female characters in animation, meanwhile I was trying to promote this series called Emara about a female Muslim superhero animated in Saudi Arabia that you can watch for free on Youtube and no one cared about it.
Is somebody else whitewashing the Religion of Peace, and come to think of it, making it sound like "sexualized" is an inherently bad thing? I'm not amused by the sight of somebody giving free ad space to what could be another example of taqqiya. But of course no one about the above; even if they view the perspective of such propaganda as acceptable, they'll still complain, stemming from an obsession with ridding all art of sexuality. That's what it's all really about. Here's another example:
If you never saw evidence of violence against women in Iraq, I’d say you were lucky. I was there in 2005-2006 with 36th EN BDE. We found, at various times, 3 bodies of girls who had been killed for “family honor” in Baghdad. We knew the reason because of the notes pinned to their clothes. And while on Iron Claw route-clearance missions, we witnessed a couple of beatings.

But yes, I would agree with you that the idea that it is omnipresent is certainly incorrect.
That still doesn't excuse that the ideological cause of a serious issue is being obscured or excused by the writers of this comic (and the reviewers), and that they may be accusing innocent Americans of "islamophobia", which is actually a badge of honor for anyone who's a realist. Again, if the MFR review is correct, and the story comes within even miles of condemning anybody concerned about Islamic influence, that's just dismaying. How can problems be solved without knowledge? It goes without saying that such an approach does a terrible disfavor to 9-11 Families too by minimizing it all down to "classic post-911 racism", and opposing legitimate criticisms of religion.

So what am I supposed to think of Meyer now, if he's really being as naive on these issues as this suggests? Well, I don't regret being critical of the people who were attacking him in such petty fashion 3 years back; they were indeed very unpleasant characters, and have no place in sane society. All the same, this is very disillusioning, even more than the time when he folded on his lawsuit against Mark Waid, because now, how is one to know he doesn't take a rose-colored view of grave subjects? Well, I guess that's the lesson that has to be learned: sometimes, even people who may have an ostensibly perceptive viewpoint on one matter can still be very PC on others. And now that I think of it, if reviews like MFR's are any indication, if they spoke about such a book, doesn't that confirm there were leftists promoting it as a great item at the time? In which case, Meyer sure is taking an odd path to make it sound like none of them cared about potential propaganda they favored.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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